Stacian - Person L

STACIAN is Person L is Oakland resident, solo artist and academic Dania Luck. Beginning in the American Mid West, Stacian has been an ongoing Bay Area concern since 2008, deeply involved in the minimal wave and underground electronic music scene. A dystopian vision of alienated humanity, broken communications and technoid mal-forms, Person L is her most fully developed full length and a leap forward from 2012’s Songs For Cadets. Moving away from the primitive Cold Wave of previous work, Person L manages to create a bleak dystopia without relying on Ballardian cliche, though still invoking concrete prisons and urban disassociation. Person L is a throbbing, murky underworld that revels in imperfections, a submersive, digital swamp bleeding through the club.

Themes of humanoid alienation and identity confusion abound. Person L is the nominal (and sole) band member of STACIAN, a manifestation of Luck’s that re-creates a near-human face in the mirror. Album opener Volx is a massive stomper, 909 kicks bringing an almost electro-glam thump into the stereo field. Luck’s skill as Person L and as STACIAN is in maximilising minimalism. Volx is a simple composition, an arpeggiated analog synth and simple kick-snare but it creates the drama Luck’s vocal thrives on. Headstand is similarly huge sounding, though here the track unfolds gradually with synth strings eeking out a simple melody before the catastrophising kick ramps up the pressure. It’s a wonderful exercise in abstraction vs. body moving dynamics. Album single Telephonix is the closest thing to a conventional pop song on Person L, with murky electronics belying a thrilling Cold Wave dancer. We’re lost in the throes of miscommunication: in placing our trust in electronic communications we’ve divorced ourselves from human interaction.

On Side 2, Dirgent heralds a darker portion of the album. A slow burner with a blown-out low end anchoring the doom, it marks a dark wave of distortion that swells up and consumes the listener. The narrative turns in on itself Remote Cntl, ironically marking the most human of the tracks here. Though the album is devoid of any overt feminist sentiments, here Stacian covertly samples a male voice man-splaining electronic music before burying him in electronic sludge. It’s absurdly thrilling. Spooky Action At A Glance takes John Carpenter-esque atmospherics into Stacian’s Maximalist approach, the horror blow up to kitch, day-glo proportions. Album closer gNoMoN takes a dub rhythm and blasts it into the Cold Wave outerverse, a menacing doom to close Person L.

LP / Digital Album

Posted on September 23rd, 2017 under Releases, ,

Night School Records: The Modern Institute

For The Modern Institute’s self-titled first vinyl document, the practices of audio technicians Richard McMaster, Laurie Pitt and James Stephen Wright are brought into sharp focus, the initial analyses of a project which examines the rituals of performance, the signifiers of bourgeois culture and the absurdities inherent in the middle class art gaze. While undoubtedly disturbing in execution, it’s a succinct reminder of the tension between lazy, electronic music tropes and the essential, quizzical attitude frequently lacking in the technoid culture yet abundant in Glasgow’s agent provocateurs.

Seen through the frame of primary music generators McMaster and Pitt’s previous music projects – Golden Teacher, General Ludd – The Modern Institute’s recorded output is an oblique, strategic examination of rhythm and the spaces between. Rhythm is often re-defined and re-formed through out The Modern Institute, with the easy 4/4, communally cohesive beats of the Teacher and the Ludd some way off.

Opener Black Blood is a case in point, with a elusive pattern providing a warped, skeletal framework for Wright to smother. The atmosphere is austere, aggressive, clinical as a gallery wall after the exhibition has failed. The yawning, sub-bass of False Beards and Diamond Hooves hacks at the exhibition floor opening up punishingly alien chasms. The narrator’s deadpan poesy, battling against the brutalist backdrop, reminds the listener of early industrial pioneers Cabaret Voltaire, not least in the unmistakably northern accent. Side A closes out on the first attempt by The Modern Institute to break into a recognizable pattern, though rendered on Destroy Logic as a dry destruction of a Bashment rhythm. Arabic Eight is nightmarish, a Normal deconstruction of art music. A nonsensical, dadist mutation of electronic dance music, Intelligent Dance Music with no intelligence, dance or Music. Wright intones “when I was younger you used to say you weren’t in it for the money,” taking down conceptions of artistic integrity, inspiration and muse. On Springloaded, we’re still deep in an alien lifeform’s insides, viewing the tropes the art industry uses to sell itself, splashes of digital distortion and burps crossfiring across the stereofield. Shiver And Quiver ends The Modern Institute, sounding like all the cities’ alarms simultaneously set off to the beat of the LPs only 4/4 beat, here juddering and unnaturally fast. Ask questions, just don’t ask for answers.

LP / Digital Album

Posted on June 19th, 2017 under Releases, ,